Dialogic Blog

VoWiFi: Risks and Rewards

by Jim McLaughlin

Sep 2, 2015 4:27:00 PM

voWiFi:Risks and RewardsWith voice-over-Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) now natively supported by both the Apple iPhone and Android-based handsets, telecom service providers are actively evaluating the risks and rewards of this new opportunity.  In contrast to the plethora of currently available third-party over-the-top (OTT) VoIP applications, native VoWi-Fi service guarantees simplicity of use, with subscribers needing only to press the familiar green “send” button on their handsets in order to establish a call.  

For fixed, cable, and mobile network operators alike, voice-over-Wi-Fi offers a cost effective means of extending service into both residences and enterprises – indoor settings where Wi-Fi coverage is nearly ubiquitous.  To be sure, for mobile operators in particular, there is a need to carefully define Wi-Fi integration and hand-over policies in order to effectively monetization existing cellular facilities, and fortunately, these issues are currently being addressed within the industry.  

Beyond commercial policy concerns, some service providers also worry that the benefits of a voice-over-Wi-Fi offering could be negated by security or quality of service (QoS) issues outside of their control.  However, with mobile network operators spending billions of dollars annually to improve cellular radio coverage and spectral efficiency, the business case for resolving these technical issues and rolling out VoWi-Fi service is not hard to envision.  Moreover, when it comes to security and QoS challenges, solutions do, in fact, exist today that go a long way towards mitigating operator concerns.

With data sessions, when Wi-Fi access point security is questionable, business enterprises rely upon tunneling protocols and subscriber authentication methods to safely send confidential information.  And as it turns out, these very same techniques can be used to prevent eavesdropping and maintain user privacy during VoWi-Fi conversations.  Given this fact, it’s reasonable to say that the key technical challenge remaining for service providers is ensuring a carrier-grade quality-of-experience for their voice-over-Wi-Fi users. 

In many ways, the challenge of managing voice quality over a Wi-Fi connection is similar to the problem that network operators face today when interconnecting voice calls across disparate devices, networks, and carriers.  Every network possesses unique transmission characteristics that must be accommodated in order to dynamically manage voice QoS.  Whether using a fixed line, cable, or mobile network, real time media processing techniques such as “transcoding” currently exist for the purpose of enhancing the quality of voice communications, and these same techniques are equally applicable to VoWi-Fi applications.  In fact, for network operators with IMS or IMS-ready core networks, the introduction of a transcoding capability can be vital to the successful launch  of a high-quality VoWi-Fi service, whether deployed alongside a voice-over-LTE offering, or implemented in its own right.

With an extensive portfolio of real-time media transcoding and interconnect solutions, including a software-only media server, Dialogic is dedicated to ensuring the success of network operators as they strive to meet the ever-evolving demands of their subscribers.

Topics: VoLTE/VoWifi & IMS